Golota-Ruiz: Out For Respect

10.20.04 – By Vaughn M. Featherstone: Ahhh, the Heavyweight division. Once upon a time it was a glamorous division that became the Main Event of many major fight cards. These days, it’s trying to find its identity similar to John Ruiz and Andrew Golota. When they fight on November 13th, expect some fireworks of some sort. Although both fighters are veterans of the game, neither has receive the acclaim that most Boxers yearn for. However, this doesn’t mean that neither fighter has made a name for themselves. Both fighters are well known throughout the Boxing world but not the way they want to be known.

Andrew Golota (38-4-1 33KO) made his name in the mid-90’s when he stepped into the ring with Heavyweight Riddick Bowe. Golota surprised the Madison Square Garden crowd by dominating Bowe with stiff jabs and poweful hooks. Bowe was clearly being outclassed and was on his way to a major upset loss until Golota began sending his punches below the belt. After repeated warnings, referee Wayne Kelly stopped the fight and disqualified Golota after 7 rounds. Some may say that Bowe may have come back have the fight continued on, but by the way the tide was turning, Golota may have knocked Bowe out in the later rounds.

Golota managed to secure a rematch because of popular demand. In the rematch, Golota picked up where he left off in dominating the fight. With the exception of round 4, a round in which Golota was dropped, Golota put on a punchers showcase in knocking Bowe down in rounds two and five and was on his way to another one-sided victory. However, it would be deja vu all over again and the repeated low blows forced referee Eddie Cotton to stop the fight once again with only one round to go with Bowe grimacing from pain but also looking defeated.

After a ten month layoff, Golota returned to take on WBC Champion Lennox Lewis in the winter of 1997. Lewis knocked Golota out at 1:35 of round 1 and the Boxing world wrote Golota off once again as a loser. Golota returned to the ring and defeated the likes of Jesse Furgeson (W10), Tim Witherspoon (W10) and Quin Navarre (KO6) in an exciting slugfest. But his underacheiving mentality would get the best of him in knockout losses to Michael Grant (TKO10) and Mike Tyson (NC2 Changed from TKO2). Wins over journeymen Brian Nix (TKO7) and Terrance Lewis (TKO6) “earned” him a shot at Chris Byrd. Although Byrd was expected to walk to a successful title defense, Golota shocked Byrd by giving him a twelve round battle that many felt he (Golota) won.

John Ruiz’s (40-5-1 28KO) road to stardum was just as rocky as Andrew Golota’s but his path was in another direction. Although Ruiz will go down as a fighter who fought anyone who wanted to challenge, his claim to fame is one as a fighter who looked like a professional wreslter. Before his victory over James Thunder, Ruiz made his name beating on club fighters and journeymen. When he stepped in against then up and comer and vicious puncher David Tua, he was the victim of a 16 second, one punch knockout.

He continued on fighting hasbeens all the way to his WBA Heavyweight title trilogy with the recycled Evander Holyfield beginning in August of 2000. Although this first fight was close , Holyfield won a unanimous decision. Many felt it was a situation to get Holyfield the undisputed title. These two would meet again with Ruiz winning the second bout while dropping Holyfield in the 11th round. The third bout ended in a draw although many felt that Ruiz did enough to win the fight. Ruiz retained his title nevertheless and took on Kirk Johnson.

The Johnson fight was foul-filled as Ruiz was a victim to lowblows although a few were very questionable. Johnson was disqualified in the 10th round by referee Joe Cortez. Meanwhile Roy Jones was looking to crash the Heavyweight division and he chose John Ruiz as his target. The fight was one-sided as Ruiz grabbed and clinched and was warned for holding repeatedly. Jones took the WBA title in a one-sided embarassing unanimous decision defeat for Ruiz. Ruiz would regain the title in unspectacular fashion with a 12 round unanimous decision over Hasim Rahman. His best peformance to date was his 11 round knockout over Fres Oquendo.

WIth the history of these two fighters inside of the ring, why not expect a very intriguing fight?

The Strategy: Andrew Golota

In his fight with Chris Byrd, Golota proved to the Boxing world that his was mentally and physically ready to step in the ring and be a serious contender. He showed the Boxing skills he had when he fought Riddick Bowe twice in 1996. (Prior to the low blows of course). Golota also displayed the heart and determination that many questioned following his mental breakdown between rounds of his 2 round “No Contest” to Mike Tyson. (The fight was originally ruled a “TKO” but changed to “No Contest” after Mike Tyson tested positive for marijuana).

When he fights Ruiz, he’ll have to remember what got him in the position he is in: His Boxing skills and his passion to succeed. Ruiz will come forward looking to clinch and be there for any punch he (Golota) choses to throw. Golota will need to jab to set up his powerful right hook. Ruiz will attempt to get close so the hook will be there. Although Ruiz doesn’t throw a lot of punches, Golota will still need ot keep his hands up. Ruiz is strong and any punch landed could prove disasterous so Golota will need to punch at various angles. Dancing isn’t Golota’s forte’.

And lastly, Golota MUST keep his focus because this may be his last hurrah. Any more outbursts (Tyson fight) or disqualifications (Riddick Bowe I-II) will spell the end of his career.

The Strategy: John Ruiz

Golota is a straight up fighter. He is a big target and finding him won’t be hard. Ruiz will need to try to get into Golota’s head. No one knows where Golota is mentally although he proved against Byrd that he was focussed. Roughing Golota up by clinching, holding and hitting may frustrate him and take him (Golota) out of his game. But the rough-house techniques isnt going to win him the fight. Golota is very string so Ruiz will need to keep his chin tucked and hands up. Golota had a slight tendacy to “wing” his punches; especially if he thinks he is in the position to tee off on a foe. Getting inside and pounding the body will soften Golota up and open up his chin. Short hooks and uppercuts inside should be very effective. When Golota starts to get into his groove, Ruiz will need to remind him of his (Ruiz) reputation: He can get very physical and turn the Boxing match into a wrestling match.

Ruiz DOES have Boxing skills although he reputation is of wreslting type fighter. He can jab and throws decent punches when he has to. He’ll need to pick his shots while staying defensive. This doesn’t mean turn Counter-puncher. What it means is to take what Golota gives him. Snap the jab while using head movement. Don’t be stationary and “pose” after punches. If so, Golota will take his head off.

The Outlook:

The fight will be better than many will expect although I don’t think it is a fight that should warrant a $50 Pay Per View tag. It may not be Gatti/Ward I or II but it will be a very physical fight. I like Ruiz and I think he is one of the good guys in Boxing. Although his skills aren’t the sharpest or most fine tuned, he is a fighter for all seasons. He doesn’t come to collect a check, he comes to fight. Golota seems to be reborn and in a fairly wide open Heavyweight division, a win over Ruiz could make the division interesting. Mike Tyson may get serious and take a crack at him.

The fight will be what everyone expects: a Extreme fighting match between two fighters who never got any respect. Ruiz will come forward and Golota will punch. Ruiz will to tie up inside and do work. Golota will slug from a distance but thorw heavy shots. Both have good chins so I dont see a early knockout. As the fight progresses, Golota will begin to find his groove and begin to land heavy shots and wear Ruiz down. Ruiz will get frustrated and start his “rough-house” tactics. He may look for the DQ but may see a big right hand instead.

Prediction: Golota by knockout

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